#3. Amare Stoudemire
Ht/Wt: 6'-10" 245lbs
1st time he dunked: 13yrs old.
1st time he reverse dunked: 14yrs old.
1st time he dunked off the backboard off of a Steve Nash head-bounce pass: 22yrs old.
05 Season Stats: 26.0ppg, 8.9rpg, 1.6bpg, 1.26PSA, 26.6 PER
Impressive? Not really. Not compared to his encore performance in the playoffs:
05 Playoff Stats: 29.9ppg, 10.7rpg, 2.0bpg, 54FG%
Before venturing into this list I felt certain that I would have Shaq in the 3 spot. Several reasons pushed him down, or more appropriately, charged Amare up the list.
1. Relevant stats: All things considered, the two had relatively even super-good years. Shaq clocked out averaging 22.9ppg, 10.4rpg, 2.3bpg, 1.17PSA, with a 27.0 PER. Push comes to shove, I'd give the edge to Shaq. But not by much.
2. Age: Stoudemire: 22, Shaq 32. This needs to be considered to estimate the effects the 32 to 33yrs old transformation will have in Shaq's 05 performance and likewise Stoudemire closing in to the peak 23-29 age group when players tend to shine/get it together/peak, before slowly eroding in ability. Also tied into this is the higher likelihood that Shaq spends considerable time off the court due to injuries.
3. Circumstance: 04 Shaq had 03 Lakers, 08 Kobe, and 100M
other reasons to motivate himself to lose some weight and throw down an up yours to the haters!- type season on the masses. Not this time around big fella.
4. The other side of the court: Defense.
Getting lazy, I'll just copy some of what Matt mentioned, for which I agree with wholeheartedly:DPOY should never, EVER (period) go to a guy under 6'-10". Look, the NBA is not a one-on-one matchup. Being a lockdown perimeter defender will only get you so far if you don't have somebody to funnel towards... a non-negligible part of defense is rebounding... great defensive teams have somebody anchoring the middle. Defending the basket. Blocking and changing shots.
This was the initial reason I was leaning towards shaq initally. Given the option of an outsanding 5 vs. an outstanding 4 of similar talent/ability, I go with 5. And likewise down the line, sizewise. Call it an offshoot of the Bill James' defensive order of difficulty/skill theory (C, SS, CF... uhhh, ballboy, mascot, manager... or something like that).
For two players of abilities as close as Shaq and Stoudemire, Shaq should come out on top in the end because of his ability to effect the game from the defensive end. The problem is, he's no longer THAT dominating a defensive presence. In the 05 Regular Season
, Miami actually allowed 1.4 less points per 100 possessions when O'neal was off the court. Opposing teams also shot a better eFG%. The kicker? A majority of these minutes his substitute in the lineup was Michael Doleac
(Doleac logged in 1142min compared to Alonzo at 242m, FYI
). Caramba. So, while these numbers cannot be used to directly compare him to players on other teams, it does tend to indicate, to me at least, a reduced ability to impact the game as behemoth shot blocking/play altering presence in the middle (be it due to a loss in step or from his tendency to play the most panty pick and roll help defense known to man is your call) and nullifies any position advantage he had in my eyes over Stoudemire.
Years from now you're gonna be telling your grandkids that you were witness to one of the most overpowering forces ever to take the nba hardwood. In my opinion, the odds are about even that you will be referring to Shaquille O'neal circa 99-2001... or Amare Stoudemire circa NOW-2012. Shaquille O'neal 2005 will be nowhere near the discussion.